So I have just finished reading this great book on ADHD called “Mindful Parenting for ADHD” by Mark Bertin, MD. It encompasses much of what I already know about ADHD and how it affects executive function and organization. It also talks about another subject that is super close to my haert- how practicing mindfulness can help you be a better and more effective parent of a child with a different brain. I truly believe being mindful and learning to be present, calm and focused, can help a parent with any child, but especially a child whose brain and body don’t work the way ours does, taking a moment to center ourselves can make all the difference in how we handle their stressful moments which eventually become ours.
At the end of each chapter are exercises which compliment the chapter and help parents plan out a home program. I am working my ways through these, because even though I currently have great resources to support Michael, this helps me on the parent and child front. One of my favorite chapters is the one on self-care and the importance of taking care of you first in order to better nurture your child. A lot of us exceptional parents know these things, but putting them into practice is hard. You can find so many good tools here that it is a truly worthwhile looking into.
When I really started understanding Michael better was when I started delving deeper into my own handling of anger and anxiety. Meditation and yoga as I’ve mentioned countless times before, showed me how to center myself when I was falling through space, and helped me see how scary it is when we don’t have access to the right tools to calm ourselves down. If we are a neuro typical adult it is scary. Imagine now if you are an exceptional child with a neuro diverse brain and way of looking at the world. Scary would not even begin to describe how fear, anxiety and anger would be experienced.
Meditation and mindfulness can be taught to a child or adult at any age. You can start with 5 or 10 minute meditation blocks and move on to 20 when ready. For kids you would talk about mindfulness different than for adults obviously, but as long as you teach them to stop, be in the moment no matter what they are feeling, and learn to breathe in and out slowly to calm their mind, they are on the right path. So many of our kids, whether they have autism, ADHD, learning challenges or other neurological or physical challenges feel misunderstood, overwhelmed and incapable of handling their emotions at times. As their parents and advocates, our best way to teach them the skills they need to learn is through learning them ourselves first. How do I handle my anger and anxiety? How do I organize my life? How do I simplify and break down a problem into smaller pieces so that it is easier to understand?
Exceptional Parents, do you parent mindfully? If not, don’t worry. It is never too late and you are never too old to learn. All it takes is learning to be present with yourself first and how you are feeling honestly. Once you learn to identify your emotions and how you deal with them, you can find many wonderful guided meditation practices online that teach you to focus on the present. Trust me this will be an invaluable tool to helping your anxious or angry child. If they see you calm and in control even when there are problems, they will begin to understand that they can do it too and adapt strategies that work for them and their brain. Until next time.